West York officials hope building purchase can keep tax hike low

Lindsey O'Laughlin
York Dispatch
Property at 1321 West King St. in West York Borough, Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Taxpayers in West York may have a smaller bill than they previously thought for the borough's new Highway Department facility.

On Monday, West York Borough Council unanimously authorized Shawn Mauck, borough manager, to make an offer to buy a property with an existing structure at 1321 W. King St. for $326,000.

"It has so much potential, versus us doing what seemed like the easy answer, which was, 'Let’s spend $500,000, tear the building down, build a new building,'" Mauck said. "This just gives us so much more for our dollar."

Previously, the borough was planning to use about $500,000 of a $650,000 loan to demolish and then rebuild the Highway Department facility at 1341 W. Clarke Ave., with $45,000 earmarked to pay off a new roof already installed on the fire hall and the remainder of the loan going toward the borough's municipal pension fund obligations.

The council also voted 5-1 on Monday night to proceed with the $650,000 loan agreement. The loan will be used to finance the purchase of the West King Street property, if the sale goes through.

By the end of the year, the council will vote on an ordinance to levy a tax increase in 2020 to offset the loan.

Councilmen Richie Stahle, Alan Vandersloot, Wayne Leedy and Brian Wilson and council President Mary Wagner voted in favor of the loan ordinance. Councilwoman Mildred Tavarez voted against it.

Councilwoman Annette Christine was absent.

The original plan to demolish and rebuild would have required a dedicated one-mill tax increase in 2020, separate from another anticipated half-mill tax increase in the general fund.

Mauck said he still needs to calculate what the new dedicated millage would be, but he anticipates it will be less than one mill, he said.

"The goal would be to be able to reduce the overall package by $150,000, and that’s a good deal for everybody if we can make it happen," he said.

After the meeting, Tavarez said she wants the borough to have the new building but will not vote for any measure that raises taxes on residents.

A lot of borough residents live on limited incomes, and the borough should find another way to pay for the building, she said.

"There's always areas where you can cut and make improvements," she said.

The eastern wall of the highway garage equipment shed partially collapsed in late 2016, and the department's staff have been working in temporary trailers, Mauck has said.

The West King Street property is fully fenced, so the borough can store impounded vehicles there instead of sending them to a third party, Mauck said Monday.

Another benefit to the property is that tractor-trailers would have room for deliveries and the borough would have room to store supplies such as mulch and road salt.

At the current property, only smaller trucks fit into the lot, said Highway Supervisor John Love.

Smaller trucks mean more deliveries. With a larger property, the borough could order everything it needs for the year in one shipment, Love said, thereby saving on shipping costs.

More:West York could hike taxes to pay for $500K highway garage

More:West York councilman: Public works building 'a safety issue'

Editor's note: A quote in this story has been corrected to show that Shawn Mauck said "It has so much potential, versus us doing what seemed like the easy answer, which was, 'Let’s spend $500,000, tear the building down, build a new building.'"